Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

IMG_4434

https://www.newsday.com/

https://paper.newsday.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=b162131d-f983-4571-8d34-226583242f16&pnum=1

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Newsday ran a nice little piece, “Perfect Pairings,” about wine and food pairings. But they missed an opportunity, which Nofowineaux will attempt to remedy.  For example, they mentioned Peconic Bay oysters, but not the Long Island wines one could drink with them.  So what follows is my own list of the foods and types of wines they mentioned, updated with my own recommendations of local wines to use.

IMG_5532

We get a new red-wine-friendly glass with the reds.

  1. Roast chicken

Newsday says have pinot noir or an oaked chardonnay.  I say, try Castello Borghese’s or McCall’s pinot noir, or Castello’s oaked chardonnay.

IMG_5870

  1. Pasta with a Bolognese sauce

Chianti would be perfect, of course, and it is made with the sangiovese grape, which is found on Long Island in a few places.  Try the sangiovese from Pugliese, or the Meritage from Laurel Lake, a blend that includes sangiovese.

IMG_3804

The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Lobster

They say a steel fermented chardonnay or a rosé.  Of course, as soon as I hear rosé, I think of Croteaux, which has lovely dry Provençal-style rosés.  For a steel chard, my favorite is Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

IMG_5657
  1. Chicken Tikka Masala

Aside from my own kitchen, I don’t know anywhere on the North Fork to get Indian food.  When I make Indian food (as I did last night, making curried cauliflower and cucumber raita), I like to pair it with a slightly sweet white, which is also what Newsday suggests.  They say use a gewürztraminer, and you have three good options on the North Fork:  Osprey’s Dominion, Coffee Pot Cellars, or, my preference, One Woman.  We drank Meditazione from Channing Daughters, a delicious orange wine made from a blend that includes gewürztraminer.

img_6065

  1. Roasted White Fish

There are lots of good options for white fish fillets at Braun’s, and there’s almost always cod.  Newsday suggests a sauvignon blanc.  Almost every winery has a drinkable sauvignon blanc, but I prefer Channing Daughters to most of the others.  It is nicely dry, but has enough fruit to give it taste.  Other good ones: Diliberto’s, Duck Walk, Clovis Point, and Coffee Pot Cellars.

IMG_5871

  1. Rib-Eye Steak

Two sources of good beef are Wayside Market and 8 Hands (though 8 Hands doesn’t always have beef—check their web page or call before you go).  As to wines, Newsday recommends either a cabernet sauvignon or a sparkling wine (and many people believe sparkling wines go with everything).  Big reds are in short supply on the North Fork, but Laurel Lake has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that’s pretty good.  Sparkling Pointe, of course, only makes sparkling wines.  Their Brut Magnum is lovely, but if you don’t care to buy a huge bottle you could try Roanoke Vineyard’s sparkling wine.

IMG_5788

The sparkler and the chard

  1. Oysters

In general, I like sauvignon blancs with oysters.  I find the lemony taste of the wine complements the bivalves very nicely.  They suggest a Muscadet or a sparkling wine.  You might try the Sherwood House blanc de blancs, or one of the above suggestions.

IMG_5152

  1. Cauliflower Steak

As Newsday notes in its article, it is often hard to pair wine and vegetables.  They suggest a grüner veltliner with this dish, and I agree.  One Woman makes a grüner that is one of my favorite North Fork whites.

As with all suggested wine and food pairings, personal taste is paramount.  If you just don’t like red wines or white wines (but why?), just go with what you like.  A light red can go with fish or chicken, and a heavy white, like an oaked chardonnay, can go with meats.  However, I can’t picture having any white with steak.  Instead, have a beer! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s) December 22, 2018

Osprey’s Dominion: Taking Flight(s)         December 22, 2018

IMG_5976

Don’t let the blue sky deceive you…it was cold!

https://ospreysdominion.com/

You really need to have two flights to begin to sample the breadth of Osprey’s Dominion’s list of wines, so…we did.  I valiantly offered to drink more of each taste than my husband, the designated driver.  A flight of five tastes is $12, so we did one with five whites and another of five reds, but we could go back and do another two tastings of all different wines, if you include the “Reserve Collection.”

On this pre-Christmas Saturday of frantic last-minute shopping (we did a few errands in Riverhead and were happy we did them early, as we saw the traffic quickly increasing), the expansive tasting room at Osprey’s was an oasis of calm.  We had useful attention from our server, who quickly noted our likes and helped us tailor our tasting accordingly, avoiding their sweeter wines.

What’s nice about Osprey is it has something for everyone, from the lower priced Richmond Creek wines to the expensive Reserves, from the sweet Regina Maris Chardonnay to the minerally Sauvignon Blanc.  They also carry a nice selection of wine-related gifts.  The one area I would fault them on is in the snack category.  After our morning of erranding I was ready for a snack, but the “cheese tray” on offer for $10 was a cellophane-wrapped very small package of a few slices of Boar’s Head salami and cheese, plus a little baggie of crackers.  No thanks.

IMG_6002

That Boar’s Head “cheese tray” was quite inadequate.

IMG_5981

Nice sized pour

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   $19

Both the aroma and the taste of this sauvignon blanc are complex and interesting, and somewhat different than the usual North Fork s.b.  We sniff and get something funky, something vegetal—maybe cabbage?  The taste has lots of minerality and salt, plus pink grapefruit. Good. The tasting menu says “refreshing acidity.”  I would agree.  My husband says it is “not shy.”   Some day it might be fun to line up a bunch of different sauvignon blancs and see how they differ.

IMG_5984

  1. 2014 Fumé Blanc $19

Well, here’s one way they can differ.  This wine uses the same grape, but aged in 15% new French oak, on the lies for a while, for a somewhat smoky taste.  The aroma is again a bit funky, but also smells like ripe melon.  It has a richer mouth feel than the first wine and a nice long finish.  Lots of good acidity.  We like this one, too.

IMG_5985

  1. 2017 Reserve Pinot Gris $24

Our server steers us to this one, instead of our original plan of just going in order on the list of whites, since we had said we did not care for sweet wines.  The aroma of this one lets me trot out my new vocabulary word:  petrichor.  That’s the “scent of rain on dry ground,” which is also the smell you get when you walk past apartment buildings in New York in the summer after the doorman has been hosing down the sidewalk, or the smell of this wine.  It tastes like tangerines and pineapple, plus again some minerality, and is another winner.

IMG_5986

  1. 2014 Reserve Chardonnay $22

Although our server says this is the least sweet and least oaky of the oaked chardonnays, it’s not my favorite of the wines so far.  100% barrel fermented, the aroma is of something floral plus pencil shavings.  My tasting buddy identifies a “theme” in the wines, which we decide is a combination of minerality and acidity.  Those qualities help balance the sweetness of this chard.  I could see having it with Chinese food.

IMG_5987

  1. 2013 Gewürztraminer $19

As is typical of this grape, we get lots of floral smells, like honeysuckle, plus spice.  “It smells like a garden,” says my husband.  Though we prefer the gewürztraminer at One Woman, this is nice, with some gingery notes as well as fruit.  A touch sweet.

 

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $14

Now we get a fresh glass for the reds.  This is a left bank Bordeaux blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  As I sniff, I’m reminded of a gift I once got of a box of chocolate covered cherries.  Add to that a touch of tobacco and you have the aroma of this mellow, smooth, and very drinkable red.  It tastes remarkably like those chocolate covered cherries, too.  Really good for the money, and we’ve often bought it at Vintage, our local liquor store.

IMG_5991

  1. 2013 Meritage “Flight” $30

I love this kind of juxtaposition.  Here’s another Bordeaux-style blend, this time of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot.  At twice the price of the Richmond Creek blend, is it worth it?  Well, maybe.  It is definitely better in that it is more complex, with aromas and flavors of prunes, fruit, raspberries, and tobacco, with tannins that indicate you could probably cellar it for a few years. I wouldn’t buy it for every night drinking, but maybe for a special occasion.  The word “flight,” by the way, refers to the owner, who is a pilot.

IMG_5992

  1. 2014 Carménère $30

According to the tasting notes, Osprey is the first winery on Long Island to plant the Carménère grape, another grape used in Bordeaux wines.  We like this wine, too.  We smell pencil shavings again, like the smell you get from a pencil sharpener, and taste purple plums and spice, perhaps nutmeg.  It has “lots of taste,” we agree.  I think this is another wine that could age.

IMG_5994

  1. 2014 Malbec $30

In Cahors, we are told by the tasting notes, malbec is blended with merlot and tannat grapes, as is the case here as well.  The notes also recommend serving this with a grilled steak, and I can see that.  The aroma reminds me of picking blueberries and blackberries at Patty’s Berries and Bunches in August, an activity I heartily recommend for small children.  I had fun doing that, too.  This wine is also enjoyable, juicy and yummy.

IMG_6003

  1. 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot $30

The server and I agree that we like petit verdot.  This one is very good, with aromas of nutmeg and other spices, and a long finish.  It tastes like blackberry jam with seeds, and is very tannic. If I were adding wine to my cellar for aging, I would get this one.

Reasons to visit:  something for everyone, with a wide variety of wines at various price points and tastes; large attractive tasting room, where they often have music and other events; most of the wines, especially the Sauvignon Blanc, the Reserve Pinot Gris, the Richmond Creek Red Blend, the Meritage “Flight,” the Carménère, the Malbec, and the Reserve Petit Verdot.  However, don’t rely on them for snacks.

IMG_6005

Note the windmill, an increasingly frequent sight on the North Fork.

 

Osprey’s Dominion: And It’s Quite an Extensive Dominion            November 11, 2017

http://ospreysdominion.com/

 

IMG_4614

The entrance

We decided it would be fun to go to Osprey’s Dominion this week, having gone to Coffee Pot Cellars last week.  Why?  Because Adam Suprenant is the winemaker for both wineries, with Coffee Pot his own label.  Would there be differences between his personal wines and those he made for a larger entity?  We did find some differences, but both places have some really good wines.

IMG_4621

Just one side of the expansive tasting room.

In contrast to the cozy quarters of Coffee Pot, Osprey’s tasting room is quite large, and was fairly crowded for November, with a serpentine bar along one side and plenty of tables both inside and outside.  Despite the chilly weather, there were quite a few people sitting on the sunny terrace, enjoying some live music, a food truck, and a fire pit.  (They ask that you not bring food into the tasting room, and sell wine cupcakes, among other snacks.)

IMG_4634

Despite the chilly weather, plenty of people opted to be outside. Note the wind vane!

The tasting menu is quite extensive, reflecting their 90 acres of grapes.  A tasting is either three choices for $8 or five choices for $12, and you have the freedom to pick any you like from their menu.  With eight whites (including one sparkling wine), one rosé, nine reds, plus five reserve wines and four dessert options, we actually needed some guidance!  Our server kept good track of where we were in our tasting, providing a clean glass for each taste, and helped us choose when we asked.  We decided to share two tastings of five, starting with the whites.  Glasses of wine range in price from $6-$10, and if you’re heading outside with a glass, they give it to you in a plastic cup.

IMG_4625

IMG_4616

Lots of options on the white wine menu.

  1. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   $17

We started at the top of the whites menu with the steel-fermented sauvignon blanc, a dry wine with more acid than fruit.  My husband said it was “strong.” Although the menu opined that it tasted of melon, I tasted more grapefruit than melon, or maybe even sour apple candy.  That said, though it is not a sipper, it would probably pair well with chicken or fish in a creamy sauce, or with New England clam chowder.  We liked Coffee Pot’s sauvignon blanc better, but then, it is from a different year.

IMG_4622

  1. 2014 Fumé Blanc $17

Fumé blanc is basically sauvignon blanc that has been fermented in oak. I described this one as mouth-watering, with the acid balanced by some sweetness.  It didn’t have much aroma, though we detected a trace of vanilla from the oak.  I think it would pair well with escargots in garlic sauce, the thought possibly inspired by the French name of the wine.

  1. Regina Maris Chardonnay $13

Why the name, and why the ship under sail on the label?  Our server wasn’t sure, but did opine that the name had belonged to a ship that sailed out of Greenport.  In any event, this is a chardonnay that combines steel and oak fermented juice half and half.  The aroma is grassy, with a hint of wood.  Though it is not overly oaky we did find it too sweet for our tastes, comparing the tastes to apple sauce and honeydew melon.  My tasting buddy found it “cloyingly sweet.”  As a result, we asked for some guidance as to where to go next on the menu, and she suggested we look at the reserve menu.

IMG_4623

We liked the label more than the wine, though if you like a sweeter chardonnay you might disagree.

IMG_4618

The reserve menu

  1. 2016 Reserve Pinot Gris $24

Good choice!  Though it was served a tad too cold, as we warmed it in our hands we smelled a faint aroma of orange peel plus a touch of funk.  It is aged “sur lies” for six months, which may account for the layers of flavor we noted.  It has a nice balance of tart and fruit, with some tastes of tangerine.  It would be good with charcuterie.  I used to think you needed red wine with cured meats, but now I think certain whites work better.

IMG_4617

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $12

Rather than continue with the whites, which we were concerned might be too sweet for us, we decided to flip to the red side of the menu for the rest of our tastes.  We were particularly eager to try this one, since it was on special at $75 for a case, and we’re always looking for inexpensive reds for daily consumption.  This is a Bordeaux-style blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  We could definitely smell the cherry from the merlot, plus a touch of something chemical—they suggest eucalyptus.  The taste is quite nice, combining cherry and other dark fruit with some spice, perhaps nutmeg, and maybe a bit of chocolate.  Good pasta/pizza wine, like with the pizza my husband made the other day, topped with eggplant and black olives.  Yum.  Definitely buyable.

IMG_4615

Go soon if you want to take advantage of the sale!

  1. 2013 Petite Verdot $28

We went back to the reserve menu for our next taste, guided as to its position in our tasting by our server.  Another good choice.  The aroma is of wood and dried fruit.  The wine is very dry, with lots of tannins, which made me think it could age well.  Though it does not have much fruit, it is very tasty, with enough acidity to cut through the fat of a steak or lamb chops.

IMG_4626

  1. 2012 Meritage “Flight” $28

Another Bordeaux-style blend, of 39% merlot, 36% cabernet franc, 17% carménère, 4% cabernet sauvignon, and 4% petit verdot, this is also a really good red.  Apparently, Wine Enthusiast agrees, giving it a grade of 90, we were told.  I never actually know what to make of those grades.  My husband felt the tannins “stick out,” so maybe it needs more aging.  It tastes of cherry and purple plum and spice.  We liked both this one and the Coffee Pot Meritage, which has a different composition and which we liked a little more.

IMG_4612

My husband’s home-made pizza, which tastes as good as it looks, and would go well with the Richmond Creek Red Blend.

  1. 2014 Carménère $28

I was eager to taste this one, since Osprey is the only vineyard on Long Island that grows this grape, and it is more usually used in blends.  The aroma is funky—basement, I say.  Fortunately, it doesn’t taste like a basement!  It is good—interesting, say my notes—very tannic, with spicy tastes of blackberry and pepper.  Not a big fruity wine, but with a nice amount of fruit.

IMG_4628

IMG_4629

Some interesting information on the label.

 

  1. 2013 Malbec $28

The menu says this is a “tribute to the great wines of Cahors.”  To me it seems more like a Long Island merlot—which is not a bad thing.  Another good, tannic, dry red with some cherry flavors.

  1. 2014 Pinot Noir $40

Since this is the most expensive wine on the menu, we expected it to be something special, especially since we were informed that it won “Best Pinot Noir in New York State in 2016.”  To me, it seems comparable to a Beaujolais, a light, pleasant red.  Easy to drink, it would be okay with roast chicken, but I doubt I’d give it a medal (though I’d have to see how it compared with the competition).

IMG_4632

Reasons to visit:  big, social winery with entertainment and good wines; the Fumé Blanc, the Reserve Pinot Gris, the Richmond Creek Red Blend, the Meritage Flight, the Carménère; very reasonable prices, especially for Long Island reds, especially when they’re on sale.  We bought a case of the Richmond Creek Red Blend.

IMG_4635

We heard there was also beer on offer outside.

Osprey’s Dominion: Attention Was Paid June 10, 2016

https://ospreysdominion.com/

IMG_2720

One of the three servers who were quick to wait on us.

One of the three servers who were quick to wait on us.

“Have you decided which wine you want to start your tasting with?” we were asked by the third server in about 10 minutes as we studied the lengthy menu.  We had not, though we welcomed the attention because on our last two visits we had felt rather neglected.   This time the tasting room was practically empty, most likely because we had decided to come on a Friday rather than a weekend day.  The last time we tried to come to Osprey’s we couldn’t even find a place to park.

The large airy tasting room

The large airy tasting room

It’s not hard to see why Osprey’s is popular.  The tasting room is large and airy, with ample outdoor seating where you can bring a picnic or buy a snack from their limited menu. Mellow music of the Frank Sinatra type was on the sound system, but they often have live music.  In fact, for the summer they have live music on Friday nights from 5-8, and they suggest you “pack your dinner or snack.”  In addition, they offer many different wines at reasonable prices with varying taste profiles.  The tasting menu lists ten whites, nine reds, and five “reserve” wines.  A flight consists of three tastes for $8 or five for $12.  We decided to do two consecutive tastings, one of whites and then one of reds, of five tastes each.

Line up of bottles on the bar

Line up of bottles on the bar

Though the servers were pleasant and attentive, they offered only minimal comments on the wines, even when we engaged them in conversation, though one of them had more extensive discussions with us about wine preferences.  We did get some help on where to start our tasting, since we wanted to try the Pinot Gris from the Reserve menu.  She advised we start there, so we did, and she was correct.

  1. 2014 Pinot Gris Reserve               $20

The aroma is lovely and flowery, like honeysuckle and orange blossom.  We taste crisp pineapple and tangerine.  The menu informs us that the wine is aged six months “sur lies,” so we expect a bit more depth, but this is a light wine and an easy summer sipper.  (Sur lies—or lees—means the wine sits on the sediment that falls out of the juice, I’ve been told, and should lead to a more complex taste.)  It was a good place to start our tasting.

IMG_2708

  1. 2014 Fumé Blanc $15

This is actually 100% sauvignon blanc, fermented in oak, so you get that vanilla aroma from the wood.  I also taste a bit of vanilla.  Again, this is a light white, with less of the citrus you get from a steel-fermented sauvignon blanc.

  1. 2014 “White Flight” Edelzwicker    $15

I’m not sure why the menu calls this White Flight, but I bet it’s so that people don’t have to try to pronounce Edelzwicker!  In any event, people should try this blend of 87% pinot gris, 8% gewürztraminer, and 5% riesling.  The menu describes it as an Alsatian blend; I describe it as delicious.  The aroma includes bread dough or yeast and spice—perhaps nutmeg.  The wine has all sorts of interesting flavors, with nice fruit and just a slight touch of sweetness.  In need of whites for summer meals, we buy two bottles.

  1. 2012 Gewürztraminer    $17

Although our server describes this wine as dry, I find it a bit sweet for me, though that sweetness would make it a good match for spicy food.  The aroma is intriguing, and after saying apple, ginger, and “heavy,” we settle on apple cider doughnut.  The taste is quite fruity, and not exactly what we expected in a gewürztraminer.

  1. Cuvée Osprey Sparkling    $25

For our last white we decide to try their sparkling wine, made from 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir, using the “Méthode Champenoise,” and served in a proper champagne flute.  “Candy wine,” says my husband.  I agree.  Dump.

They were excited about their new sparkler. We were not.

They were excited about their new sparkler. We were not.

 

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend     $12

We get a clean glass for the reds, and I clear my palate with some crackers sitting in a basket on the bar.  42% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 26% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot:  in other words, a Left Bank Bordeaux blend.  We’re always on the lookout for inexpensive reds for our frequent pasta dinners, so we decide to begin our red tasting by trying one of their line of less-expensive wines.   It smells good, of dark fruits and plums, and tastes quite nice, too.  I would buy this one, though I have to say it has no depth or tannins.  Still, it is a pleasant sipper and would go with a simple pasta dinner, and is quite a bargain for Long Island reds–and I do like to support the local wineries!

It's a measured pour.

It’s a measured pour.

  1. 2010 Cabernet Franc    $20

Like many Long Island wines, this one blends merlot with the dominant grape, in this case 88% cabernet franc plus 12% merlot.  The aroma combines spice, pepper, and a mellow tobacco, and the taste has lots of dark fruits plus a touch of black olive.  It would go well with, for example, lamb chops with fresh herbs.

  1. 2012 Carménère  $24

We get another clean glass to try this wine, the only Carménère on the North Fork.  I’m always interested to try new tastes.  2012 was a pretty good year, and this is a pretty good wine.  The menu describes it as “jammy”;  though I’m not sure I agree, it is a rich red with some nice tannins that could stand up to steak.

  1. 2012 Malbec    $24

So here is a perfect illustration of the necessity of trying different vintages.  The last time we were at Osprey’s in February of 2015 we bought two bottles of the 2010 Malbec, which we quite enjoyed.  This time, though the wine is not bad, we are not moved to buy it.  It has nice blueberry and pepper aromas and is a pleasantly dry red, but lacks the depth of the 2010.

  1. 2012 Petite Verdot    $35

Even though Petite (or often petit) Verdot is most often used as a part of a blend, I find I tend to like it by itself.  It has a beautiful dark color and tends to be fruity and jammy and big.  This one does not disappoint, though I think it might get better with age, as it is mouth-puckering dry.  (I know, I don’t like sweet wines; now I’m complaining about dry.  As the Greeks say, moderation in all things.)

Nice day for sitting outside.

Nice day for sitting outside.

Reasons to visit:  wide variety of wines at reasonable prices; large pleasant tasting room and outdoor area; the Edelzwicker, the Gewürztraminer, the Cabernet Franc, the Carménère, the Petite Verdot; small selection of wine-related gifts; Friday night live music and BYO food.  However, be aware that in season on the weekends it can get very crowded.

IMG_2714

IMG_2719

Roses are in bloom all around the grounds.

Roses are in bloom all around the grounds.

Osprey’s Dominion: Reasonable Wines, Reasonable Prices 2/7/15

http://ospreysdominion.com/tasting-room/

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The last time we were at Osprey’s, in April of 2013, we felt somewhat neglected, as our server abandoned us to cater to a group of women who came in midway through our tasting.  This time we had the room almost to ourselves, but again we were not impressed with the service.  Our server briefly outlined the menu choices, but then offered no suggestions how to choose amongst the many offerings and only minimal (unless we asked questions, no more than what was on the menu) information on each wine.  That’s too bad, as the winery has some interesting wines at quite reasonable—for Long Island—prices.

Osprey’s tasting room is quite large, and is well set up to accommodate crowds, though on this cold February day we shared it with a couple unpacking a picnic lunch at one table and only a few others at the bar.  The musician—an accomplished singer and guitarist, playing James Taylor and Eagles standards—felt quite lonely until, just as we were leaving, a party of about a dozen women arrived.  You can also find a good selection of wine-related gifts.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

Plenty of gift options

Plenty of gift options

In a nod to Valentine’s Day, one of the three menus offered a chocolate pairing of four wines and chocolates for $18.  Another let you try four of their high-end reds for $15, while the main menu let you choose any five wines for $8.  We chose the latter option, but our work was not done.  The two-sided list includes 12 whites and nine reds, plus a few dessert wines and a sparkling wine.  After a long discussion—which our server left us alone to have—we decided to do five whites and five reds, sharing each taste as we went.  Oh, and they also have Greenport Harbor ale on tap.

  1. 2012 Fumé Blanc             $18

Why Fumé, we ask our server about this wine made from sauvignon blanc grapes.  Oh, she says, because being in oak gives it a bit of a smoky taste.  We sniff, and agree on an asparagus smell.  The wine itself is interesting, dry, but with fruit I categorize as gooseberry (to confirm, the next time I see gooseberries at Briermere I’ll buy them so we can discuss the taste) and some complexity.  We like it, and agree that it is quite sippable.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

  1. Regina Maris Chardonnay $13

Why Regina Maris, we ask.  It’s a famous ship in Greenport, she says.  The bottle calls it a “special commemorative” wine, but we don’t know why.  This is a 50% oak and 50% steel-fermented chard, with a nice ripe pineapple aroma.  The taste is a bit disappointing, somewhat evanescent with front of the mouth sweetness and not much else.

  1. 2012 Reserve Chardonnay $20

We decide to try another chard as a comparison, and choose the reserve.  Too much oak for our taste, we agree, though the wine is so cold perhaps some subtlety is lost.  The aroma is nice—nutmeg and bitter orange, some vanilla.  I taste something pineapple at the end.  Just okay.

  1. 2011 Gewürztraminer $15

If you’re looking for a wine to have with next Thanksgiving’s turkey, this would be a good choice.  We smell ginger, sweet orange blossoms, and a not-unpleasant touch of wet fern.  There’s some vegetable taste, and it is nicely dry.

The Edzelwicker

The Edzelwicker

  1. 2011 “White Flight” Edzelwicker $15

I’m intrigued by this one, a blend of 87% pinot gris, 8% gewürztraminer, and 5% riesling.  Why the name?  It’s from Alsace, we are told, and means noble blend.  The aroma is interesting, too—bread dough, peach, hard candy.  The taste is not quite as exciting, but it is good, dry, but with good fruit tastes.  I think it would go really well with brie, even though I usually like red wines with cheeses.

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $12

Now we move on to the reds, and we are given a clean glass.  Where is Richmond Creek?  Right across the street, she says.  This is a Left Bank Bordeaux blend, 47% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 20% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  We’re looking for an inexpensive wine for everyday drinking, which is why we decided to taste this one.  We smell plum, eucalyptus, and forest floor.  The wine tastes okay, with some sweetness, though overall it is a bit flat.  It wouldn’t stand up to highly seasoned food.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

  1. 2007 Meritage “Flight”                                $24

Another blend, this time it’s of 67% merlot, 25% carmenere, and 8% cabernet franc.  We love its dark color and fruity aroma.  The taste is pleasant, mostly cherry, and less complex than one would expect, with some tannins.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir $40

Cheracol  cough syrup I exclaim when I sniff this wine, to which I add, also cinnamon.  Swirl.  Legs.  Cherry flavor.  Very nice, though perhaps not $40 nice.  People would like it, opines my husband.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

  1. 2011 Carmenere $35

Wow, we really like this.  If we were looking for more reds for the wine cellar, we’d get this one.  Aromas of spice, cedar and fennel precede tastes of ripe dark fruits—sweet purple plums, perhaps—plus some tannins.  The grape has an interesting history, as it was apparently a lost and forgotten French variety that was rediscovered growing in Chile.  Osprey is the only winery on Long Island to grow carmenere, another server tells us, when I tell him it’s my favorite of the day.

  1. 2010 Malbec $24 (two for $40, a January special)

2010 was a good year on the North Fork, so we have high expectations for this wine, and we are not disappointed.  The grape is from the Cahors region of France, we are told.  Argentinian wines often use malbec grapes, but this wine is softer than I remember Argentinian malbecs to be.  My husband insists that it smells like Craisins.  Could be.  I taste dried fruit and spice and I really like it.  At $20 a bottle, it’s a good buy, so we get two bottles.  (Just before we tasted this one, a bowl of crackers arrived on the bar.)

They'll make custom labels for you.

They’ll make custom labels for you.

Reasons to visit:  reasonably good wines for reasonable prices; some interesting varietals and blends you won’t find elsewhere on the North Fork; the Fumé Blanc, the Gewürztraminer, the Edzelwicker, the Carmenere, the Malbec;  you may bring a picnic (something many wineries don’t allow); good selection of gifts; a nice large room for a group.

osprey chalk board

Osprey sign

Coffee Pot Cellars June 2, 2013

http://www.coffeepotcellars.com/

photo (49)

“I have to put out the wine tasting flag,” said Adam Suprenant, the owner and winemaker for Coffee Pot Cellars, “because people keep coming in wanting a cup of coffee!”  He grinned affably and looked around his spare but pleasant tasting room, which just opened a week ago on Main Road in a building formerly occupied by a real estate office.  Mr. Suprenant is the winemaker for Osprey’s Dominion, but he also decided to express himself with his own label, named, not for a pot of coffee, but for the lighthouse in Orient which supposedly looks like a coffee pot.  He makes just four wines, so, he noted, “They’d better be good!”  That they are; not a clunker in the bunch.

The tasting room features a very attractive bar made from reclaimed poplar wood, a small selection of wine-related items, and honey and beeswax products made by Blossom Meadow, a venture of his fiancée, who manages about 100 bee hives around the North Fork. Over on a shelf sits a demonstration hive, with a glass front so you can watch the busy bees at work.

photo (48)

We each had our own tasting, $7.00 for all four wines, or $2.00 per taste, and also enjoyed Mr. Suprenant’s comments on how he made each wine.

1.      2011 Sauvignon Blanc             $17.99 

Because not many vineyards grow sauvignon blanc grapes, Coffee Pot Cellars buys these grapes from Osprey’s Dominion, but Mr. S. makes the wine his own way.  A slightly mineral aroma precedes tastes of citrus and honeydew, with a nicely long and interesting finish.  Definitely a good raw seafood wine!

2.     2011 Chardonnay                     $15.99

“This is my Hurricane Irene wine,” Mr. S. notes, remembering how the intense rain and wind of the hurricane was followed two days later by heavy rain, forcing the early harvesting of the grapes.  “The wine was very lean,” he adds, so he allowed some malolactic fermentation, but aged the wine in older oak barrels, avoiding the over-oakiness and butteriness of some chardonnays.  We like this wine quite a bit, with its honey-vanilla aroma and just a hint of butterscotch amid the citrus flavors.  Buyable!

photo (51)

3.     2008 Merlot                              $17.99

This is the wine Coffee Pot started with, and merlot is of course Long Island’s most-grown red wine grape. The fruit for this and the chardonnay all came from one vineyard in Aquebogue, from a vineyard where the grower only grows grapes for others, rather than making his own wine.  That allows the wine to express its terroir, but not, we are pleased to note, with the earthy or dirt barnyard smells of some local reds.  “People ask me if Long Island wines will age well,” our new friend says, “and I say depends on the wine.  This one is doing quite well, and many will age for 6-8 years and just get better.”   We smell a pleasantly brambly aroma and taste pleasant berry and good tannins, though not a lot of depth.  Pretty color, too.

4. 2008 Meritage                           $21.99

After making just merlot, Mr. S. decided to try a blend, so he went to some winemakers at Premium Wine Group (at Lieb Cellars) to see if they had any wine they were not interested in using.  After some mixing and tasting, he came up with this very lovely wine, mostly merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon and 6% each petit verdot and cabernet franc.  Smells like a Briermere berry pie to me!  The petit verdot adds a bit of black pepper to the delicious fruit flavor, so it is sweet but not too sweet.  “I’ll only make this in the best years,” he explains, and also describes how he puts the wine through an oxidative process to eliminate that earth flavor, and also filters out the yeasts so they will stay the way he wants them to be. Buyable.

We buy a bottle each of the Chardonnay and the Meritage, plus some honey and a box of cat-shaped beeswax candles.

photo (50)

Reasons to visit:  A chance to talk to the winemaker and learn all about how he makes his wines; four quite tasty wines; honey and beeswax products; a nice quiet tasting room. 

Osprey’s Dominion April 6, 2013

http://www.ospreysdominion.com/

http://ospreysdominion.olhblogspace.com

Having a bachelorette party?  Then this may just be the perfect spot for you.  We saw at least five during our tasting at Osprey’s Dominion, and our server noted, “I need a drink.  I just served three bachelorette parties in a row.”  The first part of the long curving bar in the large, airy tasting room is reserved for limo parties, and they get a “special” menu with four tastes, with choices winnowed to two in each category.   One group we noted had a rather extensive cheese and cracker platter, but we weren’t sure if they were served it or brought it. A guitar player in one corner varied his somewhat folksy play list to accommodate one group of women who danced in front of him.

On the other hand, we liked many of the wines, and our server had his spiel on each wine well memorized, with useful notes on each, and was happy to make suggestions as to choices and the order in which to drink them.  However, another server who took over for him when yet another group of gigglers demanded his attention just poured, with hardly any commentary.  We felt somewhat abandoned at that point.

A quick look at the gift items revealed a small assortment of not very creative choices, except for one neat idea:  they will let you order a personalized label for some of their wines, though you have to order at least a case.

The menu for those not from a limo offers two options (aside, of course, from buying a whole glass):  $8.00 for any five from the menu, or $5 for three choices.  A blackboard outside also offered a special of $20 for two tastings and a serving of sausage, cheese and crackers.  The “serving” consisted of a small sleeve of Ritz-type crackers, and a pre-packaged box with slices of mild pepperoni and fairly flavorless processed cheese.  Not worth it, but we were hungry after a shopping trip to Greenport and a quick stop at our marina to look at our slip for the coming summer (where we spotted two ospreys on their nest, which may have subconsciously influenced our choice of winery).  As we frequently do, we ordered different wines so we could taste ten of their offerings, and so tried many of their wines (their website says they have 23, but not all are on the tasting menu).  We did not try their sparkling wine, their port, or their spiced wine (served warm).

osprey white

  1. 2011 Sauvignon Blanc                                     $15

Our server notes that this is a good place to start, as it is a fairly neutral wine.  The aroma is somewhat flowery, and we note tastes of green apple and lemon.  Good, and would be nice with oysters or lobster.

2.  2010 Unwooded Chardonnay                     $15

“This one is more like a pinot gris than a typical chardonnay,” says our server, and we can see his point.  Like other steel-fermented chards it has a mineral aroma and tastes of citrus, especially lime.  The first taste on your tongue is a bit sweet, but it quickly turns tart.

3.  2010 Gewürztraminer                                    $20

“This one just jumps out of the glass at you,” said our server, who will soon be moving to North Carolina to take a teaching job.  This is certainly a Gewürztraminer that does its own thing, and does not taste like a standard wine from this grape.  The aroma combines fermented pear juice and some cat pee (or like the smell of water that flowers have stood in for too long), but is not unpleasant.  The flavor is both sweet and somewhat nutty, with a tart finish.

4.  2010 “Flight” Edelzwicker                              $24

It was interesting to taste this German-style wine next to the Gewürztraminer, since it has some of that grape, as well as Pinot Gris and Riesling in it.  We really liked it, and it is an unusual wine for Long Island, which is always fun.  The aroma is somewhat mineral, with a slight trace of cat pee, and it tastes like ripe green plums with some sweetness and complexity.  It is certainly buyable, though we don’t opt to do so.

Osprey red

5.  2007 Merlot                                                        $20

Now we switch to reds, and our server rinses our glasses once again.  A lovely aroma of berry and ripe plum, with none of the dirt that one often finds in Long Island merlots meets our noses, followed by good fruit flavors of ripe cherry with hints of chocolate. This is a prize winner, and we agree, and are especially interested to see that it is on sale, for $39 for three bottles, so we plan to buy it.  (The last time we were here, a couple of years ago, there was no charge for the tasting when we bought several bottles of wine.  Not so this time.)

6.  Richmond Creek Merlot                                                $14

It’s so fascinating to find that two wines from the same grape and the same vineyard can be so different.  As much as we like the 07 Merlot, that’s how much we dislike this thin, sour, very dry wine.  It has no finish, which is fortunate, and I’d hate to have that taste linger on my palate.

7.  2006 Cabernet Sauvignon                             $20

This one’s just okay, with mineral aroma and a whiff of earth, not much fruit and few tannins.

8.  2008 Cabernet Franc                                       $20

2008 was a very rainy year, and the cab franc suffers accordingly.  Though we smell leather and plums, the wine itself is thin, with only a little fruit and not much finish.

9.  2007 Meritage                                                   $24

Somewhat of a Bordeaux blend, the Meritage has 67% Merlot, 17% Carmenere, 10% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.  We like its aromas of dark cocoa and fruit, and it tastes good, too, with all the ripe fruit flavors lacking in the previous two wines. Our substitute server has to consult a notebook to give us the varietal breakdown.

10.  2007 Reserve Merlot                                      $35

Really good!  Lots of ripe berry aroma and plenty of fruit with no dirt make this a better than average Merlot—and they’ve priced it accordingly.

Reasons to visit:  Good for a large group, and very accommodating to bachelorette parties; they encourage picnickers in the summer to buy a bottle of wine and use the outside terrace while listening to music; the Flight Edelzwicker (called flight because the owner is also a pilot) and the 07 Merlot; good prices for most of their wines.  But this is not the place if you like individual attention and a quiet atmosphere!